A Short History of the
Roberts Switch Community
The Roberts Switch Community lies in southwest Putnam County on Old Baxter Road between Boma and Hickey. It became a named community with the coming of the railroad in the 1890s. Pioneer settler Joseph Roberts homesteaded on Mine Lick Creek around 1815. Joseph eventually acquired the land from Mine Lick Creek to Indian Creek including the area that was to become Roberts Switch. His son, Francis Marion Roberts (Uncle Marion) granted right-of-way to the railroad for one share of stock and an agreement that the railroad would build a switch and siding on the property. After this was accomplished, the area became known as Roberts Switch.
Uncle Marion opened a general store and a saw-mill near the switch. This became a community gathering spot as local farmers brought their wood products (mostly cross-ties) to the switch to sell and be loaded onto the railcars that were parked on the siding. Various proprietors operated the general store up into the 1950s after Uncle Marion died in 1912. The passenger trains also stopped at Roberts Switch up into the 1950s although there was never a depot located there. The railroad declined in importance, but, in the 1960s, Interstate Highway 40 was built through Roberts Switch. Exit 276 of I-40 is located just east of "downtown". Downtown would be placed at the intersection of Old Baxter Road and Fisher Road where the old store house sat next to the switch. The Docks, a bar and grill, currently sits about 100 feet north of where the store house was.
After Uncle Marion died, Amos Herren, who married Uncle Marion's granddaughter, Lettie Roberts, operated a saw-mill here. Amos passed this saw-mill to his son, Charlie Herren. Charlie continued the operation until he moved the mill closer to his home at Herren's Chapel. Today the main businesses at Roberts Switch is The Docks, Donnie Burgess' I-40 Tow Service, Trans-Pro Inc Truck Repair and Wrecker Service, J & M Custom, Silver Point Construction, and Mike's Garden. For years, "The Stop" service station and souvenir store was a notable landmark for the community, but it has recently closed. In 2011 the Presbyterians (OPC) built a church on Roberts Road. The Herren's Chapel Church of Christ is on the corner of Roberts Road and Herren's Chapel Road.
The community has a population of 100-150 and encompasses residents on Roberts Road and Austin Road to the east, Fisher Road, Whitefield Road, Maynard Road, and Water Tower Road on the west, and a portion of Old Baxter Road.
Roberts Switch never had a post office, school, or church in the early days. In the early days residents went to elementary school or church at Herren's Chapel, Hickey, Boma, Silver Point or points more distant. When Joseph arrived in this area, the closest post office was at Sparta. Cookeville post office opened in 1830. Then Double Walnut in 1835 followed by Double Springs in 1843, Laurel Hill in 1850, Pine Fork in 1873. Residents received mail from the Boma post office from 1888 until its closure on 28 Feb 1959. Since that date, mail delivery has been through the Silver Point post office.
The Roberts Switch Activity Center (RSAC) is the main center of community activity. It is the host of many community events to include weddings, reunions, birthday parties, and other social gatherings. It is the former home of Clavis and Frances (Phillips) Roberts. The old barn has been made into a picnic pavilion. It also has a 35 seat "auditorium" in the barn loft. The oldest building in Roberts Switch was moved 1/2 mile to this location in 2007. It has been remodeled and is called the Heritage House. The Heritage House is used for smaller gatherings (about 25 max), and when the weather dictates a controlled environment.